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Deeper Commentary

Pro 5:1
My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my understanding-
See on Prov. 2:2. As noted on Ps. 119:36; 141:4, David believed that God could act deep within the psychology or heart of man, to incline us toward righteousness and away from evil. This is how the Holy Spirit works today. Solomon believed the same (s.w. 1 Kings 8:58), but only in theory; for his Gentile wives inclined or turned away his heart from God (s.w. 1 Kings 11:3,9). God will not turn our hearts anywhere we ourselves don't want to go. Solomon often appeals for us to turn our ears / incline our hearts to wisdom (s.w. Prov. 2:2; 4:20; 5:1; 22:17), but he himself was inclined to apostasy (s.w. 1 Kings 11:3,9). All his emphasis is upon the need to incline ourselves, whereas his father David trusted in the work of the Spirit to incline his heart to good and away from evil (Ps. 141:4; 119:36 etc.).   

"Turn your ear" is the word for "incline", used by David of how he himself inclined his heart to God's word (Ps. 119:51,112,157). But David prayed that God would incline his heart towards His word (Ps. 119:36) and away from sin (Ps. 141:4). This is how the Holy Spirit works to this day- we are confirmed in the psychological attitudes we ourselves choose to have. The word is used of God's mighty "stretched out" arm and "strong hand" in human affairs (Ps. 136:12 and often in Isaiah). This powerful hand of God is at work in human hearts, confirming us in the psychological way in which we ourselves wish to go. In this sense God turns or inclines the heart where He wishes (Prov. 21:1). Solomon in the Proverbs places all the emphasis upon a person themselves in their own strength inclining their heart toward his teaching (Prov. 2:2; 4:5,20; 5:1). He fails to appreciate what David his father did; that God's word is His word and not that of the human channel through which it comes. And he totally puts the emphasis upon human strength of will, self inclination towards God's word, rather than perceiving as David did that without God's psychological help in this, we shall ultimately fail. As Solomon himself did.

Pro 5:2 that you may maintain discretion, that your lips may preserve knowledge-
David sees God Himself as preserving and keeping him, by His grace (s.w. Ps. 12:7; 140:4), whereas Solomon sees our keeping and preservation as predicted upon our keeping and preserving of wisdom (Prov. 4:6 s.w. Prov. 5:2). He reasons as did the brethren with misplaced ideals who told me to keep and preserve "the truth" delivered to me as a teenager, and I would be fine in the end. Intellectual maintenance of theological positions will not save in the end; it is God's grace by faith, as David learned by experience.

Pro 5:3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey. Her mouth is smoother than oil-
The  blindness  of  Solomon  is  driven  home time and again. The  strange woman has words like a honeycomb (Prov. 5:3); and  yet  this  is  exactly  how Solomon found his woman's words (Song  4:11). 

Pro 5:4 but in the end she is as bitter as wormwood, and as sharp as a two-edged sword-
He personally rejected this wisdom and only came to agree with it through doing just what he here condemns (Ecc. 7:26).

Pro 5:5 Her feet go down to death, her steps lead straight to Sheol-
The idea is that the beginning of the relationship would appear sweet, but in the very end, it would lead to death, paralleled here with sheol, the grave. And this was exactly the experience with Solomon's Gentile wives. Only in his old age did his chosen path lead him to turn his heart away from God and face an eternal grave. He disobeyed his own wisdom to an extraordinary degree. He clearly considered all the truths he knew as merely ideas in his mind, thereby assuring him of acceptability with God; he never personalized any of it.

Pro 5:6 She gives no thought to the way of life. Her ways are crooked, and she doesn’t know it-
The following of the path to death (:5) is done unconsciously, because of a total lack of self awareness and self examination. And yet this was precisely what Solomon did; see on :5.

Pro 5:7 Now therefore, my sons, listen to me. Don’t depart from the words of my mouth-
He spoke of his law as giving life and blessing, appropriating the very terms of Deuteronomy about the blessings of obedience to God’s law. Wisdom said: “Now therefore my sons, hearken unto me: for blessed are they that keep my ways” (Prov. 8:32 RV). Yet these are the very words Solomon uses when talking to his kids: “Now therefore my sons, hearken unto me” (Prov. 5:7; 7:24). Conclusion? Solomon sees the woman “Wisdom” as a personification of himself.   It was really Solomon's self-justification. He personally was wisdom, so he thought. This is how self-exalted his possession of true wisdom made him. And of course, his kids didn’t listen to wisdom’s way. In passing, I have noted that those raised ‘in the truth’ often find it very hard to take criticism in later life. They find tolerance of others’ views hard; they perceive themselves to be right to an intolerant extent. Is this not a little bit of the Solomon syndrome? 

Pro 5:8 Remove your way far from her. Don’t come near the door of her house-
Solomon had Gentile wives and built them houses (1 Kings 11:7,8). His wisdom was given to him as a young man, and the book of Proverbs appears to be collections of the various statements of that wisdom. But about the same time, he also got involved with multiple Gentile women who led him astray from God and to idolatry. The very warnings he gives against the adulteress and Gentile woman were ignored by him; he became the young man who went wrong with women. His girlfriend speaks in the very language of the Gentile woman of Proverbs: "I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house... into her chamber" (Song 3:4). Compare this with "She caught him... come not near the door of her house... her house... the chambers of death" (Prov. 7:13,27; 5:8). We see here the warning for all time; that we can know God's ways in theory, whilst disobeying them in practice, absolutely to the letter. Indeed it may be so that the more we know them, the more strongly we are tempted by our nature to break them.

Pro 5:9 lest you give your honour to others, and your years to the cruel one-
The word for "honour" is used at times specifically of the honour or majesty of kingship (Ps. 21:5; 45:3; Jer. 22:18; Zech. 6:13). Solomon warns his son that the kingship would be taken from the Davidic line if he married Gentiles. His years, his life, would be given to "the cruel", a word associated with idolatry in Dt. 32:22, although "the cruel" is a frequent designation of the Gentile powers in the prophets. All this is precisely what happened to Solomon. He married Gentiles, and finally was led to waste his life through turning to their idols. 

Pro 5:10 lest foreigners feast on your wealth, and your labours enrich another man’s house-
The allusion may be to the way that the family of Shechem thought they would get Jacob's wealth if their daughters married the sons of Israel. In Ecc. 2:18,19 Solomon laments that his  labours will achieve nothing; doubtless alluding back to  his  words in Prov. 5:10, where he says that the Gentile wife will make the young Israelite's labours meaningless.

Pro 5:11 You will groan at your latter end, when your flesh and your body are consumed-
It would not be unreasonable to interpret the book of Ecclesiastes as Solomon's groaning at his latter end, as his physical faculties declined. Constantly we see him as the parade example of a man whose very knowledge of God's truth led him to live in the very opposite manner; because he refused to personalize it, and assumed that the very possession of such truth justified him.

Pro 5:12 and say, How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof-
Solomon here quotes his father's words in Ps. 50:17 "since you hate instruction". Solomon thus accuses any who refuse his Proverbs of doing just this, hating instruction, which in the context of Ps. 50:17 means 'You are condemned' (s.w. Prov. 5:12; 12:1; 15:10).

Pro 5:13 neither have I obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor turned my ear to those who instructed me!-
This is true, but Solomon is addressing his son, whom he has taught. He is strongly implying that any refusal to accept his teaching would call down terrible curses. His focus instead should have been upon God's total revelation, and upon God as the ultimate teacher and instructor.

Pro 5:14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin, in the midst of the gathered assembly-
David felt that his repentance of his sins with Bathsheba would lead him to praise God in the midst of the congregation (Ps. 22:22; 40:10); by contrast Solomon is more concerned with being shamed in the midst of the congregation. David was unashamed of his shame, because he was repentant. The record presents Solomon as obsessed with "my father David", and yet failing to emulate his humility and attitudes. 

Pro 5:15 Drink water out of your own cistern, springing water out of your own spring-
There is no doubt that we can be counted responsible for making another brother sin, even though he too bears responsibility for that sin. The man who commits adultery causes his ex-wife to commit adultery too, the Lord observed (Mt. 5:32). Her sin remains her sin, but he too is guilty. Prov. 5:15,16 (NIV) teach likewise: that a man should drink the waters of his own well, i.e. take sexual fulfilment from his own wife, otherwise his waters (i.e. the sexuality of his wife) will overflow into the streets for all and sundry. She will turn to other men due to his unfaithfulness. Sin thus has so many aspects. We may reason that if we fail to upbuild a brother, or preach, then God will somehow do it anyway. But this doesn’t seem to be the spirit of Ez. 3:18: “When... thou givest him not warning...he shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand”.

Pro 5:16 Should your springs overflow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares?-
As explained on :15, Solomon is saying that a man's sexuality should be channeled through his wife, and not overflow to loose women standing in public places. LXX "Let not thy waters flow beyond thy fountain" supports this.

Pro 5:17 Let them be for yourself alone, not for strangers with you-
Sexuality shouldn't be shared with "strangers", as noted on :15, although the word often refers to Gentiles. Yet Solomon was busy acquiring 1000 wives / concubines at the beginning of his reign, when he wrote up the Divine wisdom he was endowed with in the form of the book of Proverbs. This incredible hypocrisy arose from a lack of personal consciousness of sin, an inability to personalize God's truth, and a total wilful ignorance of the conditional nature of all God's purposes with him. He is a major example to all who pride themselves upon knowing God's truth.

Pro 5:18 Let your spring be blessed. Rejoice in the wife of your youth-
See on :15-17. Solomon failed to do so, not restraining his lust for women, as he explains in Ecclesiastes, and marrying 1000 wives / concubines. Despite his ravishment  with Pharaoh's daughter as outlined in the Song, she never  fulfilled him; indeed, none of his women did. In the Song he speaks  of  how  he  was  ravished  with this Egyptian girl, especially with her breasts (Song 2:7; 3:5; 4:9; 8:14). Alluding to  this  he  could confidently exhort in Prov. 5:18-20 AV: "Rejoice with  the  wife  of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe (Song of Solomon language); let her breasts satisfy thee... be  thou  ravished  always  with  her love... And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange (i.e. Gentile) woman?". How,  indeed?  But 999 women later, it was a different story for Solomon.  Solomon  writes  in Prov. 5:18-20 as if it is of course unthinkable  that  he  should  have  been  ravished by a Gentile woman;  but  he  had been. He spoke to others with absolutely no thought  as  to whether his words had an application to himself. Effectively  he was kidding himself, on a deeply internal level, that  he hadn't married out of the faith. The obviousness of all  this  is  in  order  to drum the warning home to us. How tragic  that  Solomon  should go on to comment that such a person would die  for  want  of  instruction (Prov. 5:23). Solomon had all the instruction  he could wish for; but he didn't allow it to really sink  home  one  little  bit. He  hit  out  on  the search for an ultimately satisfying woman, but out of the 1000 he had he never found one (Ecc. 7:28), even when he sat down and analyzed each of them. And even politically, his marriages with all those Gentile women  didn't  seem  to  achieve him the support he desired from their  home  countries; Egypt gave refuge to Jeroboam, Solomon's main rival (1 Kings 11:40), even though he always acquiesced to his wives and even in his very old age he still didn’t destroy the idol temples he built for them (2 Kings 23:13).

Pro 5:19 A loving doe and a graceful deer- let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be captivated always with her love-
The idea is "don't be ravished with the breasts of a Gentile and don't have many wives; be content with your first wife". But Solomon was (Song 4:9; 7:3), and he had many wives; he totally refused to see the personal relevance of the truth and wisdom he taught.

Pro 5:20 For why should you, my son, be captivated with an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another?-
See on Ecc. 7:26. The  blindness  of  Solomon  is  driven  home time and again; he knew Divine truth, but the more he knew it, the more he lived the very opposite, failing to grasp the deeply personal relevance of truth to himself. A whole string of passages in Proverbs warn of  the  "strange"  (AV) woman  (Prov. 2:16;  5:20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27; 27:13). Yet the very same word (translated "outlandish", AV) is  used  in  Neh. 13:26 concerning  the women Solomon married. The antidote to  succumbing to the wicked woman was to have wisdom- according to Proverbs. And Solomon apparently had wisdom. Yet he succumbed to the wicked woman. He was writing Song of Solomon at the same time as Proverbs. The reason for this must be that Solomon didn't really have wisdom. Yet we know that he was given it in abundance. The resolution of this seems to be that Solomon asked  for  wisdom  in  order  to  lead  Israel  rather than for himself,  he used that wisdom to judge Israel and to educate the surrounding  nations.  But  none of it percolated to himself. As custodians  of  true  doctrine-  for  that is what we are- we are likely to suffer from over familiarity with it. We can become so accustomed  to 'handling' it, as we strengthen each other, as we preach,  that  the personal bearing of the Truth becomes totally lost  upon us, as it was totally lost upon Solomon.

Pro 5:21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of Yahweh, He examines all his paths-
The ways of man are "before" or "straight ahead" of Yahweh's eyes (Prov. 5:21 s.w.), and our eyes are to likewise "look straight ahead" (Prov. 4:25 s.w.). Our perspective and vision is to be His. We are to see life as He does. And He looks in the perspective of eternity, His Kingdom on earth which is to dominate the vast majority of our eternal existence. This is the meaning of faith in practice.

"The ways of man are before the eyes (angels) of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings" (Prov. 5:21 AV). God pondering us (root 'to roll flat') is surely the language of limitation, and applicable to the Angels. God’s Angels are pondering us, as they did Abraham, Job etc.

Pro 5:22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare him. The cords of his sin hold him firmly-
This continues the huge Biblical theme that sin is its own judgment; the wicked are more self condemned than condemned by God. In seeking to avoid the ties that bind in domestic and sexual life (see on :15-18), a man is tied by the cords of his own list. And again was absolutely fulfilled in Solomon. Once he began taking other wives, he lost all self restraint. And was held by the cords of those sins. "Hold" is the word just used in :5 of how the sinful woman herself 'takes hold' of the grave; and she will bring her men down there along with her. The imagery attributes to women a great power, which in Solomon's time was unheard of; for society considered men to be all powerful. It was perhaps this kind of thinking which led Solomon to ignore any possibility that mere women, as he saw them, could have such great hold on him and his destiny.

Pro 5:23 He will die for lack of instruction. In the greatness of his own folly he will go astray
"Instruction" is here put for 'receipt of instruction'. But Solomon has Saul in view, his father's great enemy. It was he who greatly went astray (s.w. 1 Sam. 26:21 and see on ps. 119:21). Always there is the subtext in Solomon's words of justifying his father, and justifying himself against any potential opposition to his kingship, such as that from the house of Saul. But "astray" is also the word just used for a man being "ravished" by inappropriate women (:19,20). The person in view in this chapter is always the man who has inappropriate relationships with women other than the wife of his youth. Again, Solomon is presented as the one who went astray in this way more than any other; and it was his wrong attitude to his possession of Divine truth which led him to it.